10. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams – 18th Overall
Flash back 365 days and Todd Gurley was the consensus number one guy in fantasy football. Now after a season plagued by nagging injuries, C.J. Anderson getting carries over Gurley in the playoffs and questions about load-management, Gurley has fallen to No.10 on our RB rankings. The most worrisome factor with Gurley is the rumors that he is dealing with arthritis in his knees. A nagging issue such as that may be one he never truly recovers from.
Gurley’s numbers last year were still very good however and he finished as the third RB in PPR leagues. This was mostly due to a great start to the season. Be cautious about reaching too early on Todd Gurley this year. There is no reason to take him in the first round, if he’s there in the second round take him with caution.
9. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings – 17th Overall
Dalvin Cook has only played 15 total games in his first two seasons as the Vikings’ running back. This should not sway you from drafting him though. There is a lack of competition at the RB position in Minnesota which means Cook will see a lot of snaps and will be very involved in the offense.
Fantasy owners of Dalvin Cook will hope there are more touchdowns in 2019, as he only accounted for four scores in 2018. Gary Kubiak coming to Minnesota as the Offensive Adviser should have a positive impact on Cook. Kubiak brings his zone-run scheme, which had a lot of success with Arian Foster in Houston.
8. James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers – 15th Overall
Antonio Brown is gone, which means there are plenty of vacated touches to go around. James Conner filled in for Le’Veon Bell pretty exceptionally in 2018 and proved that he can be a RB1. The only worry is that Conner wore down as the season wound down. Drafting Benny Snell Jr. out of Kentucky added RB depth and there are reportedly plans for a Jaylen Samuels/James Conner tandem. Conner still values as an early 2nd round pick, and with his ability to find the end zone could finish as a legit RB1.
7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals – 13th Overall
Raise your hand if you are aware Joe Mixon led the AFC in rushing yards. It is not often that a guy flies under the radar when he finishes 4th in the NFL in rushing yards and leads the AFC. Despite the big numbers on the ground for Mixon, it felt like he was not properly utilized in the pass game. Zac Taylor coming in from the Rams should get Mixon plenty of reception opportunities, only bolstering his value in PPR leagues. Mixon is poised to have a big season in 2019, just ask Josh Norman.
6. Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets – 9th Overall
After sitting out for a full season there is some critics that believe Bell will go to the Jets and fail to reach the heights he did in Pittsburgh. That is a reasonable conclusion when you take in to account the lesser offensive line in New York, the lesser QB and a bigger focus on Bell by the defense. Bell will still receive plenty of touches though and in a PPR will be a RB1 with the amount of receptions he will have. It is tough to gauge where Bell’s ceiling is with the Jets but Adam Gase has a history of turning no-name running backs in to fantasy studs, just look at Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake. Bell is a slight gamble at the end of the first round but if he’s there early in the 2nd, do not pass him up.
5. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals – 8th Overall
Steve Wilks absolutely wasted David Johnson in 2018, with just 3.6 ypc on 258 attempts. You can argue that Johnson was utilized better once Byron Leftwich took over the play calling duties but for fantasy owners that were relying heavily on David Johnson, it was too little too late. With Kliff Kingsbury bringing his air-raid offense to the Cardinals in 2019, there should be plenty of pass catching opportunities for Johnson. Especially when you account for the poor offensive line resulting in quite a few check downs through out games. Having Kyler Murray at QB will help the running lanes for David Johnson, it won’t fix the issues Johnson will face but it may ease it. David Johnson is going as high as RB #1 in drafts and as low as RB #14 in others. If you are high on Johnson, do not be afraid to take him early in the first round.
4. Ezekiel Elliot, Dallas Cowboys – 4th Overall
The glaring and obvious concern for Elliot is obviously the holdout situation. The Cowboys reportedly offered him the 2nd highest running back contract in the NFL but there is no sign of ‘Zeke reporting to the team during the preseason or in week 1. If Elliot does show up by week 1, he is a sure fire top 4 pick and is easily justified going #1 in any draft. The Cowboys offensive line is healthy going into 2019 after dealing with injuries in 2018. These injuries up-front didn’t stop Elliot from finishing as the 5th highest scoring RB last season. Over 2,000 yards from scrimmage is the norm for Elliot when he plays 16 games in a season. If he’s showing up, take him early and be confident he will give you a sure-fire RB1.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers – 3rd Overall
Christian McCaffrey is the literal definition of an every-down back in the NFL, playing over 90% of snaps for the Panthers in 2018. Ron Rivera has spoken publicly about scaling back McCaffrey’s work load this season but that should not scare you away from drafting him in the top four. Cam Newton showed considerable signs of slowing down over the last 10 games of 2018 and is not running near as much as he used to. McCaffrey will still be line for touchdowns and is too dynamic for defenses to contain consistently. The only thing that will likely take a dip is the triple-digit receptions from a season ago. Carolina has a pair of young WRs that it will want to get involved more this year.
2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints – 2nd Overall
Expectations are high this year for the 3rd year back out of Tennessee, with Mark Ingram gone to Baltimore. The Saints signed Latavius Murray with hopes to fill that Ingram role but Murray is not on the level of a Mark Ingram, which should mean more of a work-load for Kamara. Kamara finished as the RB3 and RB4 in his first two season splitting time with Ingram, with an increased emphasis in the offense Kamara has the highest floor of any running back. The offense is loaded around him and the line will open up easy running lanes. Kamara may the be safest pick in all fantasy football this year. Take him early and do not hesitate.
1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants – 1st Overall
The only reason Kamara wasn’t #1 on our list is simple, Barkley has no ceiling. Saquon was so explosive in his rookie season behind a bad offensive line, breaking off big runs one after another. Beckham being gone will cause defenses to go from two guys they have to game plan for to just one. It could be a tougher season for Barkley in 2019 but he has proven to be electric in the run game and the pass game. Barkley has proven to be resistant to poor talent around him, which is good because the Giants aren’t much better in 2019. The offensive line should be improved though. If you are picking #2 in your draft, there is a good chance you will not have the chance to take Barkley.
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